update

Market Levels

* US: Dow Futures: 13440.00 (-0.42%), S&P 500 Futures: 1446.30 (-0.47%), NASDAQ Futures: 2844.25 (-0.32%)

* Europe: CAC: 3498.60 (-0.95%), DAX: 7349.96 (-0.56%), FTSE: 5842.39 (-0.79%).

* Asia-Pacific: Australia: 4397.20 (-0.48%), China: 2024.84 (-2.12%), Hong Kong: 20590.92 (-1.22%), India: 5554.25 (-0.82%), Japan: 9086.98 (-1.60%).

* Metals: Gold: 1767.80 (-0.22%), Silver: 34.54 (-0.12%), Copper: 3.75 (-1.77%)

* Energy: Crude Oil: 91.68 (-0.33%), Natural Gas: 2.80 (1.30%)

* Commodities: Corn: 7.51 (-0.66%), Soya Bean: 16.64 (-0.31%), Wheat: 8.78 (-0.34%)

* Currency: EUR/USD: 1.2938 (-0.84%), GBP/USD: 1.6173 (-0.30%), USD/JPY: 78.1400 (-0.31%)

* 10 year US Treasury: 1.734% (-0.039)

Financial and Economic News Update

U.S. stock-index futures fall: U.S. stock-index futures are pointing to a lower on Wednesday as disappointing economic reports from around the globe showed that business everywhere continues to stall. On the economic front, jobless claims edged down 3,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 382,000, according to the Labor Department. The Dow Jones industrial average, the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ were all trading close to half a percent lower.

European markets in the red: European markets are down in trade today with the German DAX (INDEXDB:DAX) trading 0.6 percent lower at 7349.96, the FTSE 100 (INDEXFTSE:UKX) was down 0.8 percent at 5842.39 and the CAC 40 (INDEXEURO:PX1) slid 1 percent to 3498.60. The euro zone blue-chip ESTX 50 PR.EUR (INDEXSTOXX:SX5E) (Euro Stoxx 50) was trading 1.1 percent lower.

Asian markets end lower: Asian markets closed lower on Thursday with Japan’s NIKKEI 225 (INDEXNIKKEI:NI225) hitting a four-month closing high at 9086.98 points. The HANG SENG INDEX (INDEXHANGSENG:HIS) closed at 20590.92 points, down 1.2 percent, while the SSE Composite Index (SHA:000001) (Shanghai Composite Index) was the worst performer in the region, down 2.1 percent to close at 2024.84. The S&P/ASX 200 (INDEXASX:XJO) index declined 0.5 percent. The benchmark Indian 30-share BSE SENSITIVE (INDEXBOM:SENSEX) index ended the day 0.8 percent lower.

Company News Update

U.S.

* ConAgra Foods, Inc. (NYSE:CAG) reported first quarter earnings excluding certain items of 44 cents per share, eight cents above estimates. The food producer raised its fiscal-year profit outlook and also boosted its quarterly dividend by one cent to 24 cents per share.

* Jefferies Group, Inc. (NYSE:JEF) reported third quarter earnings excluding one-time items of 32 cents per share, 3 cents above the average analysts’ estimate. Revenue increased 45 percent, buoyed by positive income in principal transactions.

* Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE:GS) and Citigroup Inc. (NYSE:C) were down more than a percent in early morning trade after UBS AG downgraded all three stocks to “neutral” from “buy.”

* Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) is accelerating its cost-cutting plans, and is now looking to slash 16,000 jobs by the end of 2012, to help combat a decline in revenue, according to The Wall Street Journal. Bank of America had earlier announced that it would cut 30,000 jobs and $5 billion in annual expenses by the end of next year.

* Drugstore chain Rite Aid Corporation (NYSE:RAD) reported a second-quarter loss of 5 cents per share, two cents smaller than the consensus estimate. Revenue for the quarter declined 0.6 percent to $6.23 billion, topping estimates of $6.21 billion.

* Car retailer CarMax, Inc (NYSE:KMX) reported second-quarter profit of 48 cents per share, four cents short of the average analysts’ estimates. Revenue increased 7 percent to $2.76 billion that beat estimates of $2.75 billion.

* Nike, Inc. (NYSE:NKE) is up close to a percent higher in pre-market trading after its board approved a new $8 billion share buyback plan over the next four years.

* Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX) will begin selling its new single-serve brewing machine, called the Verismo, online, this week for $199. The machine will be rolled out in Starbucks stores starting next month.

* Specialty finance company Chimera Investment Corporation (NYSE:CIM) declared a quarterly dividend of 9 cents a share.

* Luxury goods maker Coach, Inc. (NYSE:COH) was downgraded by analysts at Credit Suisse to “neutral” from “outperform,” citing increased competitive pressure in North America.

* Hotel operator Marriott International, Inc. (NYSE:MAR) was lowered to “neutral” from “overweight” at J.P. Morgan Securities.

* Credit Suisse has upgraded Limited Brands, Inc. (NYSE:LTD) to “outperform” from “neutral.”

Europe

* Mining stocks were among the biggest losers in London trading, with Kazakhmys plc (LON:KAZ) down 3.1 percent and Vedanta Resources plc (LON:VED) slipping 3.4 percent. Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (LON:ENRC) lost 3.5 percent, while Anglo American plc (LON:AAL) traded 3.6 percent lower. Antofagasta plc (LON:ANTO) slid 2.8 percent.

* BASF SE (ETR:BAS) (FRA:BAS), world’s largest chemicals maker, agreed to buy U.S. crop protection company Becker Underwood from private equity firm Norwest Equity Partners for $1.02 billion.

* Russian state oil firm Rosneft’ NK OAO (MCX:ROSN) is in talks with banks to raise $15 billion to fund the acquisition a 50 per cent stake in BP plc (ADR) (NYSE:BP) (LON:BP)’s Anglo-Russian oil venture TNK-BP, according to a Bloomberg report.

* Deutsche Bank AG (USA) (NYSE:DB) (ETR:DBK) (FRA:DBK) has agreed to sell its private banking unit BHF Bank to financial services group RHJ International SA (EBR:RHJI) for 384 million euros ($501 million) in cash.

* Daimler AG (ETR:DAI) (FRA:DAI) retreated 2.7 percent after the luxury car-maker said earnings from its car division will drop in the second half of the year.

* British Sky Broadcasting Group plc (LON:BSY) was trading 0.9 percent higher after the country’s media regulator ruled that the owner of Sky News could continue to hold its broadcasting license, following an investigation over the U.K. phone hacking scandal.

* French car maker Peugeot SA (EPA:UG) is in talks with SC Russian Railways to sell a 75 percent stake in logistics unit, Gefco for 800 million euros ($1.04 billion).

* Imperial Tobacco Group PLC (LON:IMT) jumped 1.4 percent after the company said revenue will climb 4 percent this year, as growth in emerging markets and price increases offset sluggish demand.

* Japan’s largest brokerage Nomura Holdings, Inc. (ADR) (NYSE:NMR) (TYO:8604) is likely to make wide-ranging cuts in its European investment banking division, according to a report in CNBC.

* British property developer Land Securities Group plc (LON:LAND) fell 1.3 percent after Societe Generale said the firm was its least preferred stock in the European real-estate sector.

Asia-Pacific

* Australia’s Billabong International Limited (ASX:BBG) plunged 7.3 percent after it said that an unnamed party that had expressed an interest in buying the company has now withdrawn, leaving private equity firm TPG Capital as the sole bidder with its offer of $700 million.

* Mining giants, BHP Billiton Limited (ADR) (NYSE:BHP) (ASX:BHP) (LON:BLT) and Rio Tinto plc (ADR) (NYSE:RIO) (LON:RIO) (ASX:RIO) ended deep in the red in Sydney trading after the HSBC Flash China manufacturing purchasing managers’ index stayed below the 50 mark that separates expansion from contraction.

* Chinese airline stocks ended the day with strong gains after analysts at Credit Suisse kept their overweight rating on the sector. China Eastern Airlines Corp. Ltd. (ADR) (NYSE:CEA) (HKG:0670) rose 1.2 percent in Hong Kong, while Air China Ltd. (HKG:0753) (SHA:601111) added 0.9 percent and China Southern Airlines Limited (ADR) (NYSE:ZNH) (HKG:1055) gained 0.6 percent.

* Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp (ADR) (NYSE:NTT) (TYO:9432) ended 7 percent higher after it said it is planning to buy back up to $1.9 billion of its outstanding common shares.

* Australian iron-ore producer Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX:FMG) has reached a $715 million deal with New York-based investment firm Leucadia National Corp. (NYSE:LUK) to repay a loan it took in July 2006.

* Southeast Asian casino operator Genting unexpectedly put up for sale its entire 4.8 percent stake in Australian gambling company Echo Entertainment Group Ltd (ASX:EGP) for about 131.7 million Australian dollars ($137.5 million).

* Japan’s Nidec Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:NJ) (TYO:6594) is planning to buy two U.S. industrial-motor makers, Illinois-based Kinetek Inc. and the Ohio-based Avtron Industrial Automation Inc., for about $500 million, according to a Nikkei business daily report.

* Sands China Ltd. (HKG:1928) will invest $2.5 billion to build a family-oriented casino in Macau, with a view to lure middle-class gamblers from mainland China, according to a report by Bloomberg News.

* Hong Kong-listed jewelry retailer Luk Fook Holdings (International) Ltd. (HKG:0590) fell 6.6 percent after it said that Paul Law, the company’s executive director and financial controller, will resign December 1.

Economic Calendar for Thursday, September 20, 2012:

07:44 A.M. ET: Boston Federal Reserve Bank President Eric Rosengren speaks.

08:30 A.M. ET: Initial Jobless Claims (Week ending Saturday, September 15, 2012)

08:30 A.M. ET: Continuing Jobless Claims (Week ending Saturday, September 08)

09:00 A.M. ET: Markit Manufacturing PMI (September)

09:30 A.M. ET: Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank President Dennis Lockhart speaks.

09:45 A.M. ET: Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index (Week ending Sunday, Sept. 16)

10:00 A.M. ET: Leading Indicator (MoM) (August)

10:00 A.M. ET: Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Survey (September)

10:30 A.M. ET: EIA Natural Gas Report (Week ending Friday, September 14, 2012)

12:00 P.M. ET: Federal Reserve Releases Quarterly Flow of Funds Accounts

12:30 P.M. ET: Minneapolis Fed President Naryana Kocherlakota speaks.

04:30 P.M. ET: Fed Balance Sheet

04:30 P.M. ET: Money Supply

05:00 P.M. ET: Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank Pres. Sandra Pianalto speaks.

06:30 P.M. ET: St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard speaks.